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Full text of "A story about a real man"

B. POLEVOI

off its armour and the yellow skin from its underside, cut
the carcass up into pieces and began voraciously to tear
with his teeth the warm, grey, sinewy ilesh that tightly
adhered to the bones. The animal was consumed to the
very last. Alexei crunched all the small bones and
swallowed them, and only then did he become aware of
the repugnant dog taste of the meat. But what was that
smell compared with a full stomach that sent a feeling of
satiety, warmth and languor through the whole body?

He examined and sucked every bone again, and lay
down in the snow enjoying the warmth and repose. He
might have fallen asleep had he not been roused by the
cautious yap of a fox that came from the bushes. Alexei
pricked up his ears, and suddenly, above the distant
rumble of artillery, which he had heard all the time
coming from the east, he distinguished the rattle of
machine-gun fire.

Throwing off all weariness, forgetting the fox and the
need of rest, he crawled forward again into the depths
of the forest.

n
Beyond the bog across which he had crawled, there
was a glade through which ran a double barred fence of
weather-beaten poles fastened with strips of bast and
willow to stakes driven into the ground.
Between the poles there peeped, here and there, from
under the snow, the track of an abandoned, untrodden
road. There must be a human habitation near by! Alexei's
heart jumped. It was hardly likely that the Germans had
got to this remote place; but even if they had, there would
also be his own people somewhere around, and they, of
course, would shelter a wounded man and help him in
every way they could.
Sensing an early end to his wanderings, Alexei pushed
on with all his might, taking no rest. He crawled, gasping
for breath, falling face down into the snow, losing con-
sciousness from^the strain; he crawled hurriedly to reach
the top of a hillock from which, he was Convinced, he
would be able to see the village that was to be a haven of
refuge. Straining every nerve to reach the habitation he